I’m sure all of us have seen pictures of the destruction wrought in the last three nights, both out in the streets we live in and on the television screens covering the damage that has been done. And in East London it is no exception, there is not anyone who has not seen damaged shops, not walked around the shattered glass on the floor and not felt the anxiety and anger that is in the air because of the ‘riots’ of the city, amidst constant police warnings, media coverage and gossip on the street.
Market sellers in Queens Market being told by police to pack up early and go home rather than risk vandalism
Tesco which was looted and trashed in the night, now bravely open for business for a few short hours
However what I would like to talk about is what these pictures showing riot damage, sensational media coverage and stern speeches from politicians and the PM don’t mention. These pictures may show only criminal stupidity, but they don’t show the stories behind youths in Green Street defending their streets, their homes, their mosques and temples by bravely chasing off potential troublemakers. They don’t show the stories of police officers working sixteen hour shifts in order to mainstain order and keep the city protected. They don’t show the lightning-quick messages and rumours spreading through Facebook and Twitter to update friends on what is safe and where has been attacked. They don’t show the families huddled around their tv sets finding out what is going on in the city and in the rest of the country. They don’t show the people of Whitechapel chasing off yobs attempting to attacked East London Mosque while half the community sit down to break their fasts. The image I’d like to leave you with here is not one of violence, fear and sadness at recent events, but of community spirit and bravery in the face of all of this. With one voice the residents and citizens of London are showing a ‘keep-calm-and-carry-on’ spirit, showing that they will not be intimidated by this violence and the assertion that this purely wrong, and it is they, wearing a brave face, who are the true heroes.